Phonte & Eric Roberson, "Tigallerro" Album Review
Heard somewhere from someone that Summer 2K16 was going to be the hottest summer in recorded history. I call bullshit, as I'm sitting here in a fully-air-conditioned coffeeshop, the entire half-pound of hair gel + spray I put on my hair this morning having completely dissolved and the large pond of sweat seeping through my light-weight tee. Sure, it would've been a much more torturous couple of months, but as I'm walking down the street constantly contemplating the possibility of suffering a heatstroke, I'm cool, for the releases we've been blessed with 'tis season are icing me down through my eardrums. After the synth-y, seductive and subdued blackSUMMERS'night was introduced almost a month ago, Tigallerro -- the joint project by the Foreign Exchange frontman Phonte and Indie soul artist Eric Roberson -- is here to welcome a more upbeat and funky energy just in time for August.
Although the duo of Tigallerro is really 50% rapper and 50% R&B singer, the majority of the album sends us on a songful, neo-soul journey of carefree melodies accompanied by trademark Foreign Exchange-style production and occasional breezy bars by Phonte. The overall vibe of the 10-track-record is easygoing and forgiving, as two soul/hip-hop veterans for most stick to their guns on the subject matter of love songs and songwriting styles but also slightly embrace part of the mainstream electronica-mania. After starting off strong with two of my favorites tracks off the album "It's So Easy" and "Thru The Night", both of which in my opinion embody all of the summer spirit, groove and feel-good, the album takes a turn for the calmer and more varied in its remainder, going full Future/Drake in the monotoned, auto-toned "Hold Tight", and at other times flashing back a half decade to late 2000's urban contemporary R&B vibe (a comparison to Pleasure P comes to mind...) on "3:45". For myself, the most enjoyable moments of the album come from when the two exchange a few bars back and forth, in rap or sing-song, backed by majestic tremolo E. piano and immersed in a crisp, syncopated rhythm section.
Tigallerro. It's good music. It's nice to hear a record that doesn't necessarily scream ambition but instead settles for the routine soul music everybody's accustomed to and has long appreicated. It's easy to hear the obvious chemistry between Erro and Phonte, the two of whom have collaborated with each other many times before, which in turn polishes the product to achieve satin-smoothness. Unfortunately the album lacks the spark that ignites, something that takes the musicality up to the next level. The overall production value is indisputably incredible, but there is no apparent development in style or artistry for either Erro or Phonte from their respective previous projects. Tigallerro is a very pleasing record for me, but boredom inevitably hits after a few listens as the music is attractive enough to groove me for a minute, but isn't layered or excited enough to keep me going. I like Eric Roberson, but perhaps the slightly lazy obsession with previously-established formulas is what's kept an otherwise brilliant creative mind with a beautiful voice under the radar of most music fans. As for Phonte, the prolific, socially-aware rapper is en route to release his second solo album in a couple of months, which I'm stoked for. Let's check back in in September to discuss Phonte a little more.